Littwin: The Gorsuch ending may be just the beginning

In the end, Neil Gorsuch’s confirmation — the vote comes Friday — will be all anti-climax. Gorsuch was always going to be confirmed. There was no way around the math, even in these anti-science times and even though Michael Bennet, who broke ranks to vote against the Gorsuch filibuster, will now rejoin most of his fellow Democrats in voting against Gorsuch’s confirmation.

It’s also true that Gorsuch was never going to be confirmed without a fight. Donald Trump’s victory demanded it. The Merrick Garland fiasco demanded it. The new Democratic activism demanded it. The 5-4 nature of the Supreme Court demanded it.

The trouble with the fight was that while there may occasionally be some glory in defeat, there wasn’t much in this one. All Democrats got for their fight was to reinforce the already obvious case for just how weakened their political position is.

Even the winning Republicans weren’t happy with their decision to shut down the Supreme Court filibuster. John McCain, despite voting to do just that, called the idea idiotic. No one should be surprised if the filibuster for legislation goes next — a good thing in any time that Donald Trump is not president. But that’s what a 52-48 majority does these days, even with the majority knowing full well that it could soon enough become a filibuster-free 52-48 minority.

There was little glory here, and few surprises. There wouldn’t have been any surprises, in fact, if you don’t court Bennet, who generally runs to avoid this kind of attention. Now he will almost certainly be the only senator to have voted both to block the filibuster and to reject Gorsuch, angering the base with one vote and the Colorado establishment with the other.

Bennet says he made both votes for the same reason — to block the rightward movement of the Court, noting that “President Trump may have several more opportunities to transform the Court.” He wanted to save the filibuster for that inevitable day when the stakes would be even higher, when Roe v. Wade was on the line.

It has to be said that neither of Bennet’s votes did much to help in that cause. But neither did any other Democratic vote. At least Bennet had a strategy. The Democrats who filibustered did so because they had to be seen as doing something.

But even in these volatile times, this is the one vote on which Republicans were guaranteed to stick together. This wasn’t repeal and replace. This was just replace. Gorsuch is an Antonin Scalia adherent — just a nicer version — and will be just as conservative. Or, as Bennet puts it, “very conservative,” meaning “frozen trucker” conservative, which actually doesn’t seem that nice.

Gorsuch didn’t say anything at the hearings that his opponents were able to exploit, but the fight was never about Gorsuch. Yes, he’s the dream nominee. Yes, he’s almost certainly the best that Trump will ever come up with. Yes, he looks the part.  Yes, he’s a Coloradan (as if that should matter to anyone). And, yes, he’s got all the qualifications — just like John Roberts does, just like Merrick Garland does.

But it would have been the same for any conservative nominee. This battle was about keeping the center-right balance of the court and then, in future years, making it far more unbalanced. And the Trump presidency, which is already on its way to being the expected disaster, will in all likelihood be remembered not just for its bizarre dysfunction, but also for an ultra-conservative Supreme Court that would be his accidental legacy.

Many Republicans voted for Trump in order to get a Gorsuch. Mitch McConnell risked much — and won much — in brazenly denying Barack Obama the chance to replace Scalia with Garland in order to get a Gorsuch. You may want to remember that Cory Gardner never even met with Garland on the way to getting a Gorsuch. And you may remember, too — just to stir up the juices more — that several Republicans vowed to block any Supreme Court nominee by Hillary Clinton. In the hopes of eventually landing a Gorsuch.

No one really believed it would happen because no one believed Trump would win. But he did, with a Senate majority, leading to the Gorsuch win.

You don’t need to mourn an end to bipartisanship. That ship sailed a while back. And you don’t need to lament the loss of Senate comity, as many commentators have. That’s not the issue. It’s the country that’s angrily divided, not just our political class.

It was the anger, of course, that got Trump elected. And now there’s the anger, from the other side, that McConnell and Senate Republicans essentially stole a Supreme Court seat.

The anger isn’t going anywhere. If you have any doubts about that, just wait for the next fight, particularly if one of the liberal justices is being replaced. What I mean is, the Gorsuch ending is almost certainly just the beginning.

Photo Credit: Master Steve Rapport


  1. Lets be honest here.
    The first thing that should happen is all the Democrats and left leaners that are crying and howling about the Nuclear option need to get down on their hands and knees and plant a giant kiss on Harry Reid’s butt for the Nuclear Option.
    I seem to recall Harry invoked the Nuclear option 8 times and all the Demx/left leaners touted that as wonderful, good thing, to get around all the so called evil Republican Obstructionists.
    The Dems and left were warned back then that someday the Republicans would have the Nuclear power and use it. They didn’t care.
    I am recalling that Harry when asked what he would do if the Republicans used, said something along the lines of ‘I will be retired by then’ which he did last year.

    Many have claimed that “all” Supreme Court nominees have to have 60 votes. This is misinformation or an outright lie. Clarence Thomas got confirmed with 52 votes. Samuel Alito was 58 votes.
    One less then informed person claimed that the Constitution says 60 votes. It doesn’t…he was misinformed or lied.

    The lesson to the Dems and the left is absolutly do not do something unless you want it used against you.

    Likewise the lesson to the Republicans and Right is someday you will be in a minority, with a Democratic President and the Nuclear option will be used on a Supreme Court nominee.

    Just the way it is and is going to be.

  2. Bottom line: precedent is a Bi***.
    Dem’s had no problem when in majority blowing up agenda and end-running using the “nuclear option”. Anyone who is surprised by this really needs to pay more attention.

  3. I continue to be amazed that five-figure and low six-figure earners continue to support decision makers that only benefit eight-figure earners. When gerry-mandering no longer protects the house, and the lop-sided influence of the Senate by places where no one lives succumbs to demographics, the soon-to-be permanent minority will rue the day.

  4. Clown car changes lanes without signaling.

    “Hiding news that doesn’t fit an ideological or a partisan agenda is perhaps the worst form of media bias. And it’s one more reason the public holds the press is such low esteem.” – Investor’s Business Daily

    “Look, everyone knows there will never be a President Trump.” – Mike Littwin, July 2016

    “I still have no idea how or why (President) Trump was elected.” – Mike Littwin, December, 2016


    The Senate has confirmed Colorado Judge Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court thanks, in part, to the support of Mike Littwin.

    Well, that may not be totally accurate but it’s close. While Mr. Littwin may or may not approve of Justice Gorsuch he certainly approves of the methodology used in his confirmation which is why it’s so puzzling to see him not proudly take greater credit.

    Four years ago Mr. Littwin stated his opposition to the Senate filibuster simply, clearly, precisely and unambiguously. Here’s what he said in 2013:

    “The filibuster is not quite dead. As Miracle Max would explain, it’s just mostly dead.

    But excuse me if I don’t weep in either case.

    If the filibuster is gone — or mostly gone — that’s a good thing. It’s a good thing if it’s bad for Republicans. It’s a good thing if it’s bad for Democrats. Either way, it’s still good for good government.

    When Harry Reid threatened to finally press the nuclear button — and, please, no more mushroom-cloud metaphors — Senate Republicans warned him that he’d rue the day. He probably will. And if Republicans win back the Senate in 2014 — which they might — the day could come sooner than he hoped.

    And that’s fine, too.”

    And if that total, absolute rejection of the Senate filibuster isn’t unequivocal enough, well, here’s what else he said:

    “And now instead of protecting the rights of minority opinion in the Senate — a good and decent idea — (the filibuster) is routinely abused in order to upend the whole concept of majority rule, which, if I remember correctly, is sort of the basis of democracy.”

    Right on, Mr. Littwin!

    It may have taken the Senate four long years but in the end it finally came around to Mr. Littwin’s way of thinking. It’s not often a columnist has his/her idea adapted so completely. This may be Mr. Littwin’s path to a Pulitzer.

    Or not.

    Modesty has never been one of Mr. Littwin’s strengths so it’s difficult to explain his reluctance to share with his audience that he helped Judge Gorsuch reach the Supreme Court. And at the age of 49 Justice Gorsuch could be around for decades. Maybe Justice Gorsuch will be known as the Littwin Legacy.

    So, thank you Mr. Littwin!!

    Oh, and thanks also to the three Democrat senators – Indiana’s Joe Donnelly, West Virginia’s Joe Manchin and North Dakota’s Heidi Heitkamp – who also voted for Justice Gorsuch.

    And, no, I don’t believe they voted for confirmation simply because all three are up for re-election in 2018 in states won by President Trump last year. Mr. Littwin reminds us almost daily only Republicans do that sort of cynical political maneuvering.

    November 08, 2016

    “’Cause I don’t have no use
    For what you loosely call the truth” – Tina Turner

    Green light a Vet
    Folds of Honor
    Special Operations Warriors Foundation

    Veterans Day – November 10, 2017

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